Horrific Waukesha Incident Killed 4 'Dancing Grannies'

Beloved group makes regular appearances at parades in the region
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2021 6:00 PM CST
Horrific Waukesha Incident Killed 4 'Dancing Grannies'
This image from video provided by CBS 58 Milwaukee shows Virginia Sorenson of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.   (CBS 58 Milwaukee via AP)

The five people killed in Sunday's tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, include four members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies—a close-knit group of pompom dancers that performs at dozens of parades in the region every year. Group members Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81, were killed when a red SUV plowed through the group, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Hospel was a volunteer with the group, and the other three were dancers. The fifth victim was identified as Jane Kulich, 52, who had been walking with the Citizen Bank float.

"Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies," the group said in a Facebook post. "Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness. While performing, the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowd cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts." According to its website, the group, founded in 1984, has a total of around 100 grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren. It's not clear how many group members are among the 48 injured, CNN reports.

The Journal-Sentinel describes Sorenson as the "beating heart" of the group." The registered nurse, who loved to dance despite her bad back, was the group's choreographer. "What did she like about it? Everything," says David Sorenson, her husband of 56 years. "She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform." Durand's husband tells the New York Times that she had been looking forward to her first parade with the group Sunday. (Police say suspect Darrell Brooks was involved in a domestic incident minutes before he drove through the parade route.)

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